Federal officials say that more than 90 percent of Idaho’s counties have either been declared natural disaster areas or are bordering disaster areas because of prolonged drought.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Benewah, Bonner, Clearwater, Kootenai and Latah counties as the most recent regions to qualify as primary natural disaster areas. Locally Bingham, Fremont and Teton counties have applied for drought relief.
The declaration means farmers and ranchers in those counties are eligible to apply for low interest federal emergency loans. Eligibility is open for eight months from the date of the declaration.
Jeff Mitchell with the USDA’s Farm Service Agency says it’s unprecedented for nearly all of the state to be designated a natural disaster because of a drought.
The agency also designated a handful of contiguous counties in Washington and Montana along northern Idaho’s borders to qualify for emergency loans.